It’s fun. A bit sexist but fun nonetheless.
Quarry – not his real name – is a killer for hire. His main customer is a bloke called The Broker – also not his real name – who provides Quarry with his hits. The relationship between Quarry and The Broker is strained at the start of the novel. That relationship fractures when a hit goes terribly wrong.
You’ve probably read a book like this before. But given that it was written in 1976 I’m sure the novel was fresh and original at the time it was published. Collins himself talks about wanting to write a different sort of crime novel where the protagonist was genuinely not nice a person.
And Collins succeeds, in the sense that Quarry isn’t your typical anti-hero. He’s quite the arsehole. He has the thinnest of moral codes and is quite happy to use and abuse people. We do see his softer side (briefly) as he has a short, physical relationship with an ex Playboy bunny. But for the most part in Quarry’s world men are for drinking with and women are for shagging. Everyone is for killing if the money is right.
There’s a whodunit aspect to the novel which turns into a revenge narrative. The dialogue is sharp and snappy just like the pacing. It’s a book you can knock off in a day. And I really liked that things change for Quarry at the end of the book. There’s a sense that wherever Quarry’s story is going, it won’t be a repeat of what we’ve just read.
The series was a bit of a cult classic, resulting in 11 novels (a bunch of which have recently been re-published). I own at least the first five and I see no reason why I wouldn’t be reading the second.